University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Welcome to the Penn Museum blog. First launched in January 2009, the Museum blog now has over 800 posts covering a range of topics in the categories of Museum, Collection, Exhibitions, Research, and By Location. Here you’ll hear directly from our staff and Penn students about their work, research, experiences, and discoveries. To explore the Museum's other digital content, visit The Digital Penn Museum.


The Unusual Legacy of J. Ashley Sibley

By: Tom Stanley

The Smith Creek Archaeological Project is a new Penn Museum research project, conducting its first season in the field during the late spring of 2015. The Penn Museum’s social media coordinator, Tom Stanley, is blogging about the project. Scattered archaeological work has been conducted on mound sites in the Lower Mississippi Valley dating back as […]

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Cherokee Dance Rattles

By: Margaret Bruchac

Sound and Motion in Museum Objects: Cherokee Stomp Dance Ankle Band Rattles Object Analysis and Report for Anthropology of Museums by Sarah Parkinson How should museums represent objects that incorporate sound and movement? This seems to be a unique challenge, since museums tend to rely on visual cues alone in displays that are static and mute. During a […]

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Peyote Feather Fan

By: Margaret Bruchac

One Fan’s Long and Winding Road to the Penn Museum Object Analysis and Report for Anthropology of Museums by Monica Fenton This peyote fan (object number 70-9-480) was once in the possession of a Delaware (also called Lenni Lenape or Lenape) medicine man from Oklahoma, variously named James C. Webber, War Eagle, and Wi·tapano’xwe (which translates to […]

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On the Rail to the Wampum Trail

By: Anne Tiballi

May 12, 2015 Amtrak Train to Springfield, MA – Sarah Parkinson This morning, I boarded an Amtrak train on its way to Springfield, Massachusetts. From there, I will start my three week journey with the “On the Wampum Trail” team to research wampum in museum collections throughout the Northeast and Canada. There’s something about being […]

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The Speck Connection: Recovering Histories of Indigenous Objects

By: Margaret Bruchac

Frank Gouldsmith Speck (1881–1950), acknowledged as one of the most prolific anthropologists of the early 20th century, served as chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania for nearly four decades (1913–1949). He conducted ground-breaking ethnographic research, working closely with Indigenous informants from a wide range of communities (Cherokee, Haudenosaunee, Mohegan, Nanticoke, […]

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Why Would We Dig Here?

By: Tom Stanley

The Smith Creek Archaeological Project is a new Penn Museum research project, conducting its first season in the field during the late spring of 2015. The Penn Museum’s social media coordinator, Tom Stanley, is blogging about the project. The Smith Creek Archaeological Project focuses on a little-known site in rural Mississippi, land that was reshaped […]

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Greenland Inuit Doll

By: Margaret Bruchac

The Lady in Furs Object Analysis and Report for Anthropology of Museums by Monica Fenton This Inuit (Eskimo) doll, accessioned in 1937 (37-14-7), is one of seventeen objects from Greenland donated by Samuel C. Ingraham. The collection, consisting mostly of footwear, also includes a model kayak with a human figurine and miniature harpoon. The doll came from […]

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Ladies in Fur, Traveling through Time

By: Margaret Bruchac

The Penn Museum holds a variety of dolls from Arctic environs, including those collected by William Van Valin, George Byron Gordon, Captain George Comer, and the Peary Relief Expedition. Most of the items classified as “dolls” are small wooden figures; only a few represent realistic renditions of Arctic clothing. This Inuit (Eskimo) doll from Greenland (object […]

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Into the Field: The Smith Creek Archaeological Project

By: Tom Stanley

The Smith Creek Archaeological Project is a new Penn Museum research project, conducting its first season in the field during the late spring of 2015. The Penn Museum’s social media coordinator, Tom Stanley, is blogging about the project. For more than 125 years, researchers from the Penn Museum have been digging on excavations throughout the […]

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Inuit Kamik from Greenland

By: Margaret Bruchac

Fashion: Fur, Flowers, and Flannel Object Analysis and Report for Anthropology of Museums by Elizabeth Peng The clothes that we put on our bodies are rarely simple: they are imbued with cultural and aesthetic purposes that cannot be easily disconnected from the materials from which they are constructed. A myriad of factors come together to create the […]

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